Settings and Occasions

In Ireland traditional music was once used for domestic purposes- to entertain at home, or with a gathering of neighbours. This low-scale use of the music still occurs, but in the second half of the last century the music increasingly moved out of the domestic sphere into more public view. In post-war British cities Irish musicians who met socially in public houses began to play their music there. This was the genesis of the "session"- a form of music-making that has since become firmly established as the norm wherever Irish music is played.

In Ireland there is hardly an area where access to the music in this way is unavailable. Especially in the larger towns and cities, those seeking to hear the music will have a choice of places to visit any night of the week. The quality of the playing varies from place to place, as does the character of the music. In many pubs the musicians play with the permission of the proprietor; in others they are formally engaged and paid to play, usually in the hope of encouraging tourists to patronise the premises. In the latter case, particularly in pubs located in areas heavily frequented by visitors, the choice of music for performance is likely to be heavily compromised by the musicians' perceptions of what the tourists want. Traditional music is music that musicians have chosen to please themselves, and listeners are less likely to hear this in tourist haunts.

The music may also be heard in more formal settings. Many venues, large and small, regularly mount events consisting of, or featuring, traditional music performances.

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